Instructions & Some Suggested Topics for the Plant Biochemistry Position-Paper


You can develop a position-paper from a plant biochemistry topic of interest to you.  If you want suggestions some are given below.  Topics will be assigned on a first come, first serve basis so you may want to submit your topic selection early.  This can be emailed or brought to class.  You should not write on a topic directly related to your thesis or major research focus of a lab you work in or worked in within the last three years.  It is expected that at least 3 of the 6 or more references cited were published in the last 3-5 years (2013 or later).  Reference citations should be complete including manuscript titles.  The majority of the references should be from peer reviewed primary literature sources. 


You must turn in a topic selection by February 6 and at the same time you need to submit the major research areas of labs you are working in and worked in since 2012 + the name of your current or last research supervisor. 5 points for submitting by Feb. 6.


An important part of science writing is an awareness of all the most significant research papers recently published on the topic subject.  I.e. you should choose the papers reviewed systematically rather than more or less randomly.  This is usually best done by searching scientific literature and also in some cases patent literature databases.  This will also help us know the value of your position-papers.  You need to turn in your search histories including search terms used, databases searched, numbers of citations uncovered (per search term/database), reasons for choosing which ones to review, etc. along with the abstracts due April 4.  Your search histories/strategies along with your abstracts will be made available and evaluated by the entire class. 


In organizing your thoughts to write a paper such as this it is useful to develop an outline.  Outlines of your position-papers are due March 27, Abstracts are due April 3 and the full position-papers are due April 10. 


Some suggested topics for your position-paper:


1.      Biochemistry of herbicide action.

2.      Biochemical mechanisms of ___ plant hormone function.

3.      Advantages and disadvantages of C4 photosynthesis.

4.      Biochemical basis of “gene silencing” or “co-suppression”.

5.      Regulation of defense isoprenoid formation in _____ plant family.

6.      Regulation of defense flavonoid formation in legumes.

7.      Comparisons of oxylipin metabolism in plants and animals or control of oxylipin formation in plants.

8.      Changing levels of storage products in seeds – carbohydrate, protein or lipid.

9.      Atmospheric CO2 levels and plant growth, production and/or photosynthesis.

10.  Biochemical processes in fruit ripening.

11.  Control of or redirecting alkaloid synthesis in plants.

12.  Control of or redirecting isoprenoid synthesis in plants.

13.  Control of or redirecting phenylpropanoid synthesis in plants.

14.  Control of or redirecting fatty acid synthesis in plants.

15.  Volatile compound biogenesis in plant leaves, fruit or flowers.

16.  Biochemical aspects of nitrogen use efficiency in plants.

17.  Biochemical aspects of water use efficiency in plants.

18.  Biochemical aspects of drought resistance in plants.

19.  Biochemical aspects of salt tolerance in plants.

20.  Other abiotic stress tolerance.

21.  Biochemical aspects of systemic acquired resistance in plants.

22.  Other disease resistance mechanisms.

23.  Insect resistance mechanisms.

24.  Biogenesis of major flower pigments.

25.  Antibody production in plants.

26.  Plastic production in plants.

27.  Pharmaceutical production in plants.

28.  Plants as renewable chemical sources.

29.  Biofuels – 1st, 2nd and/or 3rd generation.

30.  Biochemical processes of seed germination.

31.  Biochemical processes of seed dormancy.

32.  Symbiotic nitrogen fixation.

33.  Use of genetically engineered plants for extracting and accumulating precious or toxic metals.

34.  Rational design of protein function.

35.  Metabolomics.

36.  Post translational modifications of proteins.

37.  Plant micro RNAs.

38.  Transcriptional regulation of metabolic pathways.

31.  Other plant biochemistry topic.



Some examples:


Howe, G.A., and G. Jander. 2008. Plant Immunity to Insect Herbivores. Annual Review of Plant Biology 59:41-66.


Ziegler, J.r., and P.J. Facchini. 2008. Alkaloid Biosynthesis: Metabolism and Trafficking. Annual Review of Plant Biology 59:735-769.


Edgerton, M.D. 2009. Increasing Crop Productivity to Meet Global Needs for Feed, Food, and Fuel. Plant Physiol. 149:7-13.


Ruiz-Ferrer, V., and O. Voinnet. 2009. Roles of Plant Small RNAs in Biotic Stress Responses. Annual Review of Plant Biology 60:485-510.